Did you know this is what ‘Saltimbocca’ translates as? Only those canny, savvy Italians could have come up with such a fan-dabby-dozy name for a dish that does just that. Saltimbocca is quite simply a veal escalope with sage and ham. We eat quite a lot of veal – fillet, chops and escalopes, but to be fair only recently has our consumption escalated at home. I didn’t really cook with it until maybe 2 years ago, and given that I am head shopper that rather dictated what was on the table. Mr.P has always been a devoted fan, I took a little longer to win over, partly because I grew up in an era when eating veal was deemed inappropriate but now our British veal market needs all the support it can get, so with all good intention, we are doing just that!
Back to the ‘Saltimbocca’, the sage, prosciutto combo – tightly wrapped up around the veal escalope, and rolled into a perfect ‘involtini’ is heaven. I know this because I have been the lucky recipient of Mr.P’s cooking for some time. Mr.P is the ‘saltimbocca’ chef and he has spent several years perfecting his recipe. He has scoured endless books, Locatelli, River Cafe, The Silver Spoon to name a mere few in search of perfection. As perfection is hard to come by in the kitchen I dare say he has not found his croc of gold – but his recent twiddling with the recipe is as close as we have ever been!!
Controversially we serve Parmesan polenta with our saltimbocca. Now I say ‘controversially’ as this has been a bit like converting the infidels. Along with lentils, couscous and bulghar wheat, polenta was deigned to be (by the carnivores), food of the devil. No one (apart from me) really understood it and it has been rather an education, along with some bribery and corruption to encourage the carnivores to even try it, even ‘just one mouthful’! However, like all good children, we have all seen the light and are dedicated converts – Parmesan Polenta – is now very much in our kitchen repertoire and if cooked well is like liquid gold!!
The first time I ate exceptional polenta was quite recently at one of my favorite London restaurants – ‘Wild Honey’ – it must have been back in the Autumn as I distinctly remember it being served with slow cooked venison. The combination was magic – earthy, warming and bursting with flavour. Since then I have been biding my time to introduce it to the home team. Luckily one of the ‘big beautiful boys’ happened to be around, he is always game on for new creations so the deal was made. And guess what, the said polenta was a hit. It was creamy, rich, intense, overloaded with parmesan and basically ‘liquid gold’. SO if you are feeling brave and want to create an authentic Italian dinner please try this ‘delizia’ saltimbocca and Parmesan polenta, served with a few vine roasted tomatoes it has to be my top kitchen supper this year!
‘Saltimbocca’ – Mr.P’s way……
2 Veal escalopes bashed out by the butcher so they are extremely thin
A good handful of sage leaves
4- 6 very thin slices of Proscuitto
Knob of butter
1 table spoon of flour, pinch of salt and grind of pepper
100ml white wine or vernacia
1.Flatten out the escalopes, lie a few sage leaves onto the meat and then cover with Proscuitto. Roll up from the longest side as tightly as possible and secure with a few cocktail sticks, with the sage and ham inside.
2. Place a dessert spoon of flour in a bowl with a good pinch of salt and pepper and roll the involtini in the flour so they are fully covered.
3. Heat up a knob of butter on a high heat, and seal the escalopes – roll them over so they get a lovely golden, brown color and then pop them on a plate and put then in the warming oven of an Aga – or on a very low heat in a normal oven. Keep the pan and juices.
4. Now add the sage leaves back to the pan , let the sage sizzle and scrape around the pan to get up all the yummy meat juices, now add a good 100ml of white wine or Vernacia, give everything a good stir and let it bubble and reduce.
5. When you are ready to eat pop the pan back on the heat and now add in the Saltimbocca, stir to coat well in the juices and serve on top of Parmesan polenta.
I make my polenta with milk and stir it vigorously on and off the heat, for about 20minutes until it is completely smooth and no longer granular. I then add several tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan and season generously.
Vine Roasted Tomatoes
Pop the vine tomatoes in the oven with a generous splash of olive oil and balsamic and roast for 10 minutes on a high heat.
For more information on British Rose Veal have a peek at this article : http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/may/27/rose-veal-jimmy-